Last week my good friend, rock journalist Jaide Soto, writer and owner of Shut Up & Rock On, interviewed former Dio, Whitesnake, and current Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell.
Throughout the interview Campbell released a pretty extensive retelling of his “forced” departure from Dio. One of the direct quotes from Campbell said:
“So, you know, at the end of the day it comes down to this- Ronnie didn’t have the balls to stand up to his wife.” (Shut Up & Rock On).
The feud between Campbell and Ronnie James Dio is surely no secret to rock fans worldwide, with many fans of the group Dio still not sure what side of the story to believe.
Read the full excerpt from the interview below:
“And I know not too long after that your time with Dio came to a close. What was the turning point when you were with Dio where everyone realized it wouldn’t be able to work anymore?"
"Well I was the thorn in Dio’s side. When the band was formed, that night in September ’82 in London, Ronnie kind of sat us down once we played, and this was the first time we all met and played together, Ronnie sat us down afterwards and he was super excited with what he was hearing. He said here’s the story…and he kind of explained to us that he had left Sabbath with Vinny and that he had a record deal and that we were gonna call the band ‘Dio’, for obvious name recognition. And that we would all be writing the record together, and he said there was going to be no money in this- you’re literally going to get a hundred dollars a week, which we did. But he said that if this project is successful by the third album, we’ll make it a completely equitable situation. That’s the thing I never let go of, and people make it kind of a nutshell thing about money. It was never about money, it was always about principle to me, you know? I am a man of my word. When somebody looks me in the eye and shakes my hand and we have an agreement, I’d honor my end of the agreement. In a nutshell, the Dios did not honor their end of the agreement. To be honest, with the benefit of having many many decades of hindsight I can see exactly what happened. Ronnie never shared that information with Wendy, and Wendy never saw any value in the band. As far as she was concerned it was all about Ronnie, and that Ronnie could have any three musicians behind him playing guitar, bass and drums and it would be just as good. And the fact was that Ronnie knew that a band was a sum of the parts. The third album came and like I said Ronnie was in a very very dark place when he was going through the separation from Wendy and I talked to Ronnie at the start of the ‘Sacred Heart’ record and I said Ronnie, you know, I just wanna touch base with you about this. We’re on album three here…and up to this point bear in mind that the band has been very very successful. We’ve sold millions of records of which Vinny, Jimmy and myself got nothing from. We’ve sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise and t-shirts with our name, image and likeness on them which we got nothing. We’ve sold millions of dollars’ worth of tickets of which we got nothing. And we were being salaried less than the road crew. Which was all fine, we all agreed to work to this end because we all agreed that it was a labor of love, a passion project and we were invested in it because we knew that by the third album it would be an equitable situation. Because that is what Ronnie had promised us. So I was the one, I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t married, I had no kids, I didn’t even have a home, I had no mortgage- I didn’t know any better. I just kept going 'Ronnie we need to talk about this, we’re doing album number three'. And Ronnie kept saying '...okay let’s get through the album and then we’ll sit down with Wendy and we’ll figure it out'. So we got through the album and we started rehearsals for the tour, I brought it up with Ronnie again- 'Ronnie we really need to sit down and talk about this we’re on the third album'. He said '...okay well let’s get through rehearsals. Once we’re on the road we’ll sit down with Wendy'. So we got through rehearsals, we go on tour, I bring it up again, he keeps pushing it off. And then there was a break in the first leg of the American tour and we were due to start in England so I went back to Ireland for them to transition so I could meet with my family. As soon as I got to Ireland I received a Fed-Ex contract from Wendy Dio. They offered me an extra few hundred dollars a week and they told me to sign it and return the contract, failure to return it within 48 hours would stipulate it- meaning I was no longer in the band. I tried to get Ronnie on the phone and he wouldn’t pick up the phone. That was it. The next thing you know Craig Goldy is in the band and the band is touring England with Craig Goldy. Ronnie is making interviews in the press telling everyone I quit the band, which was absolutely untrue- I was fired from the band in the middle of the tour because I wanted him to respect his word. So, you know, at the end of the day it comes down to this- Ronnie didn’t have the balls to stand up to his wife. He didn’t have the balls to stand up to Wendy and go '...this is what I promised them, this is what it’s gonna be, this is what it should be'. And frankly, I don’t think the band was ever the same afterwards. And I think that if Ronnie was still around and he were to be honest, he’d admit the same thing. I also think that if Ronnie was still alive and that if Wendy were not his manager, I would be playing with Dio again. I would have done it years ago. Wendy never saw the value in the band and at the end of the day she never thought it was worth it."
Be sure to read the rest of the interview with Campbell on Shut Up & Rock On ー Campbell discusses more information on his time with Dio, his time after Dio, and his current and future adventures with his new group, Last In Line!
What do you think about Campbell’s confession? Leave a comment below and let us at University of Rock know what you think!
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